10 other people you shouldn't talk to after a self defense shooting
If you know anything at all about the legal perils of defending yourself with a gun, you know that you should never speak at length to a 911 operator or responding police.
Why? Because the physical and emotional trauma of defending your life can give you diarrhea of the mouth. And in the minutes and hours after a shooting, you could say things that a prosecutor could decide to use against you in a criminal trial.
But are there other people who could present the temptation to say too much? The answer is a resounding "Yes."
Spouse – In most cases, your spouse will be on your side and will be inclined to plead your innocence. However, even a well-meaning husband or wife could repeat your ill-chosen words to police, which could become part of the police report and be used against you.
Child – Just as a spouse could repeat what you say to police, a child could do the same. And young children may not have the maturity to understand what you say to them or exercise caution when an authority figure questions them.
Friend – You may have friends with whom you share nearly everything. This could lure you into a false sense of security. But even the best of friends may end up in the awkward position of having to speak to authorities about what you told them.
Neighbor – That person you talk to over the fence may give you a ready ear for all manner of subjects, but spouting off about a shooting isn't one of them. Neighbors may like you a lot, but if a spouse, child, or friend could say the wrong thing, so could a neighbor. And it's even less likely that they'll go to any length to protect you when faced with an investigator using words like "murder" or "homicide."
Coworker – There are friends, then there are "work friends." And that's what most co-workers are. Not only could they say the wrong thing to police, they're likely to repeat the story to everyone else at your place of employment causing a whole new set of potential problems in the aftermath of a shooting.
Witness – This is a particularly difficult person to avoid talking to because you'll desperately want this person to report a favorable version of your story. But in your adrenaline-addled state, you could do more harm than good if you make a bad impression or appear to be pressuring the witness.
Doctor – No worries here because there's doctor/patient confidentiality, right? Not necessarily. While there may be confidentiality laws in your state, there is no guarantee that something you say will fall under this protection, especially if what you say is not strictly related to your medical condition.
Nurse – While a nurse may project a warm and caring personality, they're trained to do this. And all the dangers that exist with a doctor also exist with a nurse.
EMT Crew Member – This is someone who may have experience with post-shooting adrenaline effects, but they're more interested in treating you medically than understanding the details of the shooting. They may take inaccurate notes or confuse details with a dozen other incidents when questioned days or weeks later.
Social Connection – As incredible as it sounds, some people might be tempted to text statements to others or post comments to their Twitter or Facebook account. Not only is it a bad idea to communicate with others when you're shaken up, it's a doubly bad idea to communicate electronically because there are ways to recover this information even if you later delete it. This could become akin to a written confession!
But hold on. Isn't all of this hearsay? And aren't prosecutors prohibited from using these second-hand accounts of your statements? It may be that way on TV, but this isn't how it always works in real life.
Actually, anything you say to anyone after a self defense incident may be regarded as an exception to the hearsay rule and could come back to haunt you.
So in the end, what's the takeaway? Same as with police. SHUT UP.
If you need to tell your story, plead your innocence, and cry on someone's shoulder, make sure it's your criminal defense lawyer.